For an economy to exist in a western capitalist country it has to have a workforce – I have ‘A’ levels in ‘Stating the Obvious’ What isn’t so obvious and rarely talked about is the dependence it has on a pool of non-workers. By non-workers I mean those who are capable and available to work.
The reasons are simple:
- the labour market needs flexibility in the supply of workers to meet the fluctuations in demand
- the law of supply and demand requires that there are sufficient non-workers to help keep wages and salaries down
- whilst a surplus of jobs pushes up the financial demands from potential employees and workers alike
- non-workers can be labelled and catogorised for statistical purposes and political manoeuvrings that help to keep the various factions from upsetting the system
- non-workers can be directed to do lower paid work as the economy is perceived to require
- non-workers can be encouraged to work for nothing , sorry – to volunteer, to advance their skill set or to conform to rules set by the government
- non-workers can be encouraged to accept work with fewer safeguards and poorer conditions
- it enables employers to offer non-negotiable contracts
In recognition of this the government takes taxes and then supports with benefits those who are ‘out of work’ to tide them over until they find new employment. Simple!
Now it follows that there will be those who, for whatever reason, become long term unemployed and in doing so become a ‘burden’ on the state because they have effectively withdrawn from the pool of non-workers. The government has no real incentive to get them into the job seeking group as there are plenty there for the needs of the economy, but they must appear to be doing something as our society does not like scroungers – those who take but don’t give back.
They are also a good scapegoating group – identifiable and easily made to look as if our economic ills are their fault by taking our taxes away from more important demands. Scroungers serve a useful political purpose in diverting attention away from troublesome policies.
Diversionary tactics are encouraged and scroungers are linked to be just one step away from cheats who are evidently ruining this country.
Alongside the above are those who for whatever reason, be it temporary or permanently, can not work – those who are incapacitated. Except some don’t realise they can work and have to be weeded out of their dependency on the state. How dare they take our money when they could be useful citizens. I hope you recognise sarcasm and irony. In this group are the unwell and the disabled. By definition the unwell and disabled have a hinterland of care and dependency which must be co-joined with the scroungers and cheats. It is recognised that there will be some who are deserving of financial support from our hard earned taxes, but we need to formally scrutinise each case to make a determination. Unlike those of pensionable age who are the true ‘deserving’ because they are now deemed outside of the pool of non-workers. Oh joy!
What an opportunity to save money by reducing the benefit burden.
Incidentally – it is my belief that one of the marks of a civilised society is that it considers outside of the political spectrum the levels and nature of support for education, health and the vulnerable etc. and then, as an act of national will funds it.
Back to the burden. Dogma seems to want to reduce our civil service. OK, seems to make sense until it is sold off to some foreign corporation or enterprise who are making a huge profit and swiftly, with the tacit agreement of the government, hive off their responsibility to pay their due taxes. OK, it is all via a legal process of avoidance, but immoral non the less.
I suspect a thorough independent cost/benefit analysis would show a net loss via the current privatised system, but hey, it would upset too many who have learned to depend on the government making money for them.
Hang on who is depending on who here?